By JOSEPH KRAUSS | Associated Press
JERUSALEM — Iran and Turkey lashed out at their regional rival the United Arab Emirates on Friday over its decision to normalize diplomatic relations with Israel, accusing it of betraying the Palestinian cause, even as much of the international community welcomed the move.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry called the U.S.-brokered deal a “dagger that was unjustly struck by the UAE in the backs of the Palestinian people and all Muslims.” Turkey said the peoples of the region “will never forget and will never forgive this hypocritical behavior” by the UAE.
The UAE, which has never fought Israel and has quietly been improving ties for years, said the agreement put a hold on Israel’s plans to unilaterally annex parts of the occupied West Bank, which the Palestinians view as the heartland of their future state.
But the Turkish Foreign Ministry said the UAE had no authority to negotiate with Israel on behalf of the Palestinians or “to make concessions on matters vital to Palestine.”
The agreement would make the UAE the first Gulf Arab state — and the third Arab country, after Egypt and Jordan — to have full diplomatic ties with Israel. The Palestinians say the deal amounts to “treason” and have called on Arab and Muslim countries to oppose it.
The historic deal delivered a key foreign policy victory for U.S. President Donald Trump as he seeks re-election and reflected a changing Middle East in which shared concerns about archenemy Iran have largely overtaken traditional Arab support for the Palestinians. Trump has predicted that other countries in the region will follow the UAE’s lead.
Israel, the UAE and other Gulf countries that view Iran as a regional menace have been cultivating closer ties in recent years. Turkey has had diplomatic relations with Israel for decades, but under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has positioned itself as a champion of the Palestinians. Turkey and the UAE support rival camps in the conflict in Libya.
Later on Friday, Erdogan said he was considering downgrading Turkey’s relations with the UAE and recalling its ambassador.
Oman, a Gulf country that has cultivated closer ties with Israel in recent years, even hosting a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last year, meanwhile welcomed the agreement. The Foreign Ministry statement, carried by the state-run Oman News Agency, did not say if the sultanate would make a similar move.
Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas welcomed both the agreement and the decision to suspend annexation, and called to congratulate his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi on “this historic step.”
“We stand by our position that only a negotiated two-state solution can bring lasting peace to the Middle East,” Maas said in a statement. “Together with our European partners and the region we have campaigned intensively in past months against an annexation and for the resumption of direct negotiations.”
Italy said the normalization of relations was an “important step that can contribute to peace and stability in the Middle East.” It said it hoped the “positive” suspension of Israel’s annexation plans would help restart direct peace negotiations.
China meanwhile said it welcomes “any measure that helps in easing tensions between Middle Eastern countries and promotes regional peace and stability.”
Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Beijing will “continue to firmly support the Palestinian people’s just cause of restoring their legitimate national rights and building national independence.”
Associated Press writers Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran; Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey; David Rising in Berlin, Nicole Winfield in Rome and Christopher Bodeen in Beijing contributed.
Source: Orange County Register